A bite out of the budget

essica Dreschel

Eating healthy foods can be pricey for students on and off campus

Credit: Steve Schirra

When lunch time rolls around, are you more concerned about the leafy green stuff on your plate or the green bills in your wallet?

A look into food prices in and around Kent State may make the decision easier.

“I try to eat all healthy food,” said freshman exploratory major Jackie Lloyd. “It would be cheaper to buy a slice of pizza, but I would rather pay more for the healthy stuff than eat fat.”

Franquie Yazbek, freshman interior design major, said she buys healthy food because it makes her feel better about what she eats.

“I spend my money on pretty much the salad bar, fat free dressing, the fruit bar and cottage cheese,” she said.

Emily Allman, sophomore political science major, said finding the balance between a food’s price and its nutritional value is deciding between the lesser of two evils.

“Either it’s good for you and tastes good and it’s expensive, or it’s cheap and doesn’t taste as good and you know it’s bad for you,” she said.

However, Andrea Spandonis, director of Dining Services, said a food’s health factor has little to do with its price.

“We have never sat down and said, ‘This is healthy, let’s charge more,'” Spandonis said. “There are food cost differences between, for example, beefsteak tomatoes and grape tomatoes, which are really popular right now. Our sale prices reflect that.”

Dining Services employees look at the cost they pay for an item and then begin to determine what to charge, Spandonis said.

For example, a 20-pound box of lettuce may cost $20. Of those 20 pounds, perhaps five are unusable. The overall cost per pound of lettuce will then go up because fewer pounds will be divided into that $20 price tag, she said.

“We use the same mathematical formula to determine the price of a foot-long hot dog or a Mediterranean stir-fry,” said Ed Schaufele, senior manager of Prentice Hall Cafe and Munchies.

Natalie Lussier, nutritionist for the Wellness Suite at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center said fruits and veggies are cheaper if you buy them in season.

Lussier said preparing meals at home is also a more thrifty way to use fresh fruits and veggies.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Web site, http://www.nutrition.gov, offers tips for eating healthy on a budget.

According to the site, shoppers may be able to find bargains on larger bags of frozen vegetables which can be used for multiple meals. Also, regular rice and oatmeal are generally cheaper than the flavored or instant varieties.

Lussier also said that students who wish to eat healthy and save money can choose items on the dollar menus that many fast food restaurants offer.

“Some places now have yogurt, fruit, side salads, chili, baked potato, no sour cream,” she said. “You must remember the most important thing: (In the) long-term, burgers and fries do cost a lot more in medical bills.”

But sophomore chemistry major Nick Welch, makes the decision to eat a burger or not in another way.

“I consider price, not health value,” he said. “I die when I die.”

Contact business reporter Jessica Dreschel at [email protected].